While the Rugby Championship is still a fair way off, the dust is starting to settle on the hectic new Super Rugby format, and a few Wallabies bolters are starting to reveal themselves.
In any year immediately following the Rugby World Cup, depth is at a premium, making these young hopefuls a nicer surprise than usual.
Who are those that did not feature in the World Cup last year that are sticking their hand high in the air to play a big part for Australia this year?
Christian Leali’ifano, ACT Brumbies (five-eighth/inside centre)
Christian Leali’ifano has not only been one of the form five-eighths in the country, but in the world of club rugby.
Leali’ifano is a defensive rock at a typically frail position, which gives his backline in Canberra great confidence.
This is not all he brings to the table though – whilst he does not share the same attacking flair as some of his contemporaries at his position, he is a disciplined playmaker at 10 or 12 and can keep the line straight.
He is also a handy kicking option, going at 81% this year, and has only made 4 errors all year in 320 minutes of rugby.
Jed Holloway, NSW Waratahs (second row/number eight)
Jed Holloway is not here off the back of the record-breaking hat trick he scored on the weekend, although that does show the kind of lethal attacking weapon he can be.
Whether coming off the bench or starting at the back of the scrum, the big 6’5”, 113kg 23 year-old has been one of the more impressive NSW forwards this year, in a pack that has not has been as impressive as previous seasons.
Holloway is starting to take on the role that the Waratahs have groomed him in over previous years, racking up the run metres, breaking lines and beating defenders like the new Wycliff Palu in town.
Holloway has been good in defence too, rarely falling off tackles. If he can keep up the economic production he has put out so far, he’s well on his way to a Wallaby camp invite.
Ben Meehan, Melbourne Rebels (halfback)
When he was named for Melbourne in round one, Ben Meehan was meant to be warming captain Nic Stirzaker’s jersey until he came back from injury. His form for the Melbourne Rising was not meant to translate to SR this soon.
However, four weeks in and Meehan is keeping head coach Tony McGahan up at night as to whether or not he should be benched for their newly appointed captain.
As of now, the Melbourne Rebels have the fifth-best attack in the league, and Meehan’s combination with the likewise impressive Jack Debreczeni, as well as his ability as a triple-threat (kick, pass, run) are two big reasons why.
Not only is he in line for a full-time starting role, but also a Wallaby camp invite, especially given the shortage at his position. I wonder how few tipped that at the start of the season.
Samu Kerevi, Queensland Reds (outside centre)
Samu Kerevi has been one of the more impressive Wallabies prospects in the past few years, and despite his side’s struggles, it looks like this year may finally be the year.
Damaging in attack as well as defence, Kerevi is having a magnificent season despite Queensland’s winless start to the season. Now, as the team looks to improved, just how good will Kerevi begin to look?
Kerevi currently sits in the top-five in the league in runs, currently averaging a little over 10 per game. If he can cut the handling errors down, he is a big chance to grab a bench spot in the Rugby Championship, or even against England.